Battling a history of substance abuse, Donna relied on House of Hope’s nurturing professionals long after her stay at House of Hope had ended. Donna received recovery support and other help as she completed her RN degree and focused on surrounding herself with healthy relationships.
Donna was raised in the care of a single parent who was an active alcoholic. She had a transient home life, struggled with learning disabilities, and was frequently absent from school. She lived with her aunt when she was in high school, holding down two jobs as she managed to graduate. After graduation, she married a drug addict who was abusive and, after three years together, died by suicide. At 25, Donna met another man with the same problems, and the cycle started all over again. When she became pregnant, she separated from him and vowed to stay clean and keep drugs out of her life. She worked and saved up for an apartment that was near his family so she could have help with the baby. The baby’s father took Donna’s money and spent it, leaving her homeless and penniless.
Donna arrived at House of Hope, pregnant and destitute. She delivered her baby boy, Cole, at Lowell General Hospital with House of Hope staff by her side. Soon after, Donna fell into deep despair and, leaving the shelter one afternoon to visit Cole’s father, overdosed on drugs. In the aftermath, the Mass Department of Children and Families put Cole into foster care and Donna went to live at a residential facility for substance abuse. She stayed in close touch with House of Hope staff by visiting often.
“I got a lot of love here. The House of Hope staff is really awesome. They gave me a lot of hope. I stayed strong and knew I would not give up and I would get my boy back.”
After many months, she was able to get Cole back into her care. She worked and started school again during that time. The recovery support she received helped her to see how she clung to relationships that were abusive and unhealthy. Today, after several years of courses and nursing school, Donna is proud that she earned her degree as an RN. She learned to trust her instincts and focused on surrounding herself and her children with healthy relationships. “Even after I had been gone from House of Hope for a year, the Housing team still helped me to find a permanent place to live. I didn’t know how to do anything (like getting a credit report) but they were always there to help me.”
Donna is now happily married with three children, including her son, Cole. She credits House of Hope with giving her a second chance at life.
“I learned a lot. I finally learned how to stand on my own.”